Yeah, there is control but it is not an absolute control. After all, according the Mahaparinibbana sutta:Sherab wrote: ↑Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:19 amConsider the Buddha. Did he have control over his aggregates? If no, why did he state that if Ananda had asked him to remain when he the Buddha had hinted that he would be passing on, he could have done so? If the Buddha had not control over his aggregates, how could he have performed miracles such as sprouting fire from the upper half of his body and water from the lower half of his body? So can we conclude that since apparently the Buddha had control over his aggregates, the Buddha had a self? I am inclined to think not.boundless wrote: ↑Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:21 am It is something that we can test in our experience, by seeing if we can control it. So, in this case, if by "self" is meant the (supposed) "controller of the experience" we can verify its absence by contemplating the impossibility to have control on experience. Hence, if there is no controller, the four propositions of the tetralemma are all based on a false assumption of a controller. Hence, they are in fact nonsensical because a concept cannot be said to "exist", "not exist" etc after death.
He could extend his life up to a world period. Not forever. But you have been right to point it out. After all, we have in the Attakari sutta (AN 6.38):And the Blessed One said: "Whosoever, Ananda, has developed, practiced, employed, strengthened, maintained, scrutinized, and brought to perfection the four constituents of psychic power could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it.  The Tathagata, Ananda, has done so. Therefore the Tathagata could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it."
So, in a limited sense "individuals" are accepted, after all. There is a relative control, but not an absolute one. Is the "element of endeavoring" an "entity"?“So, brahmin, when there is the element of endeavoring, endeavoring beings are clearly discerned; of such beings, this is the self-doer, this, the other-doer. I have not, brahmin, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view as yours. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself — say ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’?”
I agree with you that individuality is not rejected. Only the "self" is. But IMO this means that asking "what happens to the Tathagatha after death ?" is impossible, being a meaningless question (since the "self" is rejected).Sherab wrote: ↑Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:19 amMy own tentative view is that where causality operates, a self cannot be said to exist inherently in any phenomena (phenomenon being defined as that which is subjected to causality.)boundless wrote: ↑Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:21 am Apparently, according to the Theravada school the rejection of an atman is more than realizing that there is no controller as is explained in this answer by Venerable Yuttadhammo (as it happens, I still do not understand how to test empirically the other characteristics). Also, impermanence (Sanskrit: anitya, Pali: anicca), which implies also the absence of control, is the reason that all conditioned existence is "anatman/anatta" and it cannot be used to explain the fact that the third mark also applies on Nirvana (see another answer of Venerable Yuttadhammo). Anyway, I think that in the Theravada Nirvana (despite not being impermanent) is not considered a self because it has not the characteristics of a supposed self, as explained in the first answer I linked.
So, I think that one needs to understand the assumption of what the assumption of an existing "self" (Pali: atta, Sanskrit: anatman) means and what the assumption implies. Hence, I think that the rejection of the tetralemma is based on an empirical realization that the assumption on which the propositions are based (i.e. the existence of an "atman") is wrong.
On the other hand, I also think that the concept of "emptiness" (shunyata) in Mahayana goes beyond than the above, anatman. In Madhyamaka, unconditioned dharmas are not real and hence, they are of course empty of "inherent existence". I do not know if the realization of impermanence by itself leads to the realization of the absence of "inherent existence", however. Anyway, it seems that "anatman/anatta" and "shunyata" are subtly different, check for example this post.
I view the Buddha as free from any dependencies because nirvana is said to be unconditioned. Given my definition of a phenomenon, the Buddha then is NOT phenomenon. Does that imply a self exists for the Buddha? I think it was Ven Nanavira Thera who said that there is individuality but not self. I am inclined to agree with him.
As regards emptiness, I always felt as if there is something missing in the more well-known definitions. Maybe one day I can put my finger in it.
The problem that I see here, is that "self" in the Pali Canon suttas seems to be defined more or less as an "essential I". If you consider the Anattalakkhana sutta, the supposed "self" seems to be a rather precise entity. In particular, the aggregates cannot be a "self" because they are impermanent, subject to (ultimately uncontrollable) change and therefore they are unsatisfactory. Apparently an impermanent "self" cannot be regarded as a "true self" because it would be unsatisfactory (actually, the annihilationists accepted the existence of an impermanent self).
So, whatever is dependently arisen is subject to cessation and cannot be a "self". OK. So all phenomena are empty of a "self". They have do not exist by themselves, but they need other phenomena to arise. So they have no "independent existence". Of course, if by "self" one means "independent existence", then no conditioned phenomena can have a "self". But IMO, the "self" denied by the Anattalakkhana sutta is not "independent existence". Rather, it is more similar to a "independent existent controller, experiencer" and so on.
On the other hand, the Madhyamaka seems to go further than the denial of a "self" (I use "self" in the sense of the Anattalakkhana sutta as I understand it). In the suttas, there might be hints to the position that anatman/anatta is the same as emptiness in the Madhyamaka (and also it might be the correct interpretation of the suttas themselves), but I do not see enough evidence to assert that in the suttas, "anatman" is the same as "emptiness" in the Madhyamaka sense.
For me it is somewhat confusing. The "atman" denied in the Pali suttas (and I guess also in the Chinese Agamas etc) seems to be a rather specific "entity". After all, as far as I know, the Abhidharmikas (especially the Sarvastivadins) were criticized by the Madhyamaka because they posited "ultimate dharmas" (conditioned and unconditioned), which IMO means "irreducible dharmas". The Madhyamaka, instead, rejected the possibility of finding irreducible dharmas. Now, when, for instance, we are considering the 75 ultimate "dharmas" of the Sarvastivadin abhidharma can we use "entity" as a translation of "dharma"? And what about the 82 ultimate "dharmas" of the Theravadins (of the commentarial tradition)*? Both the Theravadins and Sarvastivadins, however, accepted "anatman". So, "atman" seems to be IMO a rather specific entity. The Madhyamaka, however, rejected the view that dharmas arise, meaning however that "dharmas" are ultimately unreal, illusions etc. The SEP article on Nagarjuna can be of your interest.
*I read also that the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma held a more "reified" concept of "dharmas" than the Theravin Abhidhamma, e.g. see Nibbana and Abhidhamma by Lance Cousins. I still fail understand what that means, however....
Regarding the relation Buddha-Nirvana, I do not know. I agree, however, that "phenomenon" might not be the right word for Nirvana (neither is "thing").
Thanks for that, I agree that there are interesting similarities. But, I think that the view adopted by Eriugena might be an example of the "fourth extreme", i.e. neither existing nor non-existing. In fact, in my understanding Nirvana in Madhyamaka is samsara understood. There is no "reality" beyond the "ordinary one". In particular, there is no ontological primum, i.e. a "Source of all beings" (not even a neither existent nor non-existent one), that is beyond phenomena.Wayfarer wrote: ↑Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:45 amAt risk of further complicating the thread, I would like to introduce some ideas from a different tradition, namely, early medieval Christian theology. The text below from the SEP entry on Eriugena addresses the notion that there are levels or modes of being. This also relates to the above post about 'the thirty one planes of existence', as here too the author is referring different 'planes of existence'. These were still part of the landscape for Eriugena; they're an aspect of what has been called 'the Great Chain of Being', which was generally to fall out of favour in later Western thought.boundless wrote: I also think that the concept of "emptiness" (śūnyatā) in Mahayana goes beyond than the above, anatman. In Madhyamaka, unconditioned dharmas are not real and hence, they are of course empty of "inherent existence".
Of course the background to Eriugena's thinking is obviously theistic, and so, is very different to the Buddhist analysis in that respect. However, if you're willing to grant that there might be some degree of correspondence between the Christian conception of the divine nature and the Buddhist 'unconditioned' (which I acknowledge is risky) then there are some interesting ideas here.
I know I am drawing a long bow, but it is the Academic forum, and I think there are some interesting convergences.Eriugena [lists] five ways of interpreting the manner in which things may be said 'to exist' or 'to not exist'.
According to the first mode, 'things accessible to the senses and the mind' are said to exist. [This roughly corresponds to the five skandhas].
Whereas anything which,‘through the excellence of its nature’, transcends our [sensory] faculties [e.g. like angels or celestial beings] are said "not to exist". According to this classification, God, because of his transcendence, is said not to exist. He is ‘nothingness through excellence’ (nihil per excellentiam).
The second mode of being and non-being is seen in the ‘orders and differences of created natures’ , whereby, if one level of nature is said to exist, those orders above or below it are said not to exist:
According to this mode, the affirmation of man is the negation of angel and vice versa. ...In other words, a particular level may be affirmed to be real by those on a lower or on the same level, but the one above it is thought not to be real in the same way. If humans are thought to exist in a certain way, then angels [or bodhisattvas] do not exist [in the way that physical beings exist].For an affirmation concerning the lower (order) is a negation concerning the higher, and so too a negation concerning the lower (order) is an affirmation concerning the higher.
...when Eriugena calls God ‘nothing’, he means that God transcends all created being, God is nihil per excellentiam (‘nothingness on account of excellence’) or, as he puts it, nihil per infinitatem (‘nothingness on account of infinity’). Matter, on the other hand, is also called ‘nothing’ but it is ‘nothing through privation’ (nihil per privationem). Similarly, created things are called ‘nothing’ because they do not contain in themselves their principles of subsistence [in other words, they lack sva-bhava, 'own-being' - they're 'empty' in a sense close to that intended by the Buddhist analysis]